NORFOLK (NNS) -- A Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Midshipman and an officer candidate from Old Dominion (ODU) University, members of the Hampton Roads NROTC consortium, used their Navy training to save a woman and child from a fiery car crash here Feb. 1.
Midshipman 1st Class Jason Benning, 22, from Virginia Beach, Va., and Officer Candidate Joshua Moore, 26, from Bluffs, Ill., were driving to their homes in Virginia Beach following an evening maintenance engineering course at ODU when they saw a one-car accident at the interchange of Interstates 264-64 east of downtown Norfolk at about 8:45 p.m.
"At first, it just appeared to be a disabled vehicle on the side of the road," Moore said. "But it was facing the wrong direction, facing westbound in the eastbound lane. And we could see a fire had started from the engine compartment in the front."
Moore and Benning pulled their vehicles over to see if there was anyone in the vehicle.
"There was no one standing around the car and it appeared as if (the accident) had just happened," Moore said. "Midshipman Benning and I both pulled over along with a truck whose driver had seen the accident happen in his rear view mirror."
Moore said the three then ran to the car, with Benning calling 9-1-1 on his cell phone, to report the accident and request a fire truck and ambulance to be sent.
"When we got there, you could see the fire was getting larger and we started knocking on windows but we didn't get a response," Moore said.
Benning said the car was starting to fill up with smoke, making it difficult to see if there was anyone in the vehicle. Moore then grabbed a hammer from another passer-by who had tools in the trunk of his vehicle. Just as the midshipman and officer candidate were going to knock out a window in the car, a highway safety officer pulled up with an extinguisher to assist in beating down the flames.
"I managed to break out the passenger side window and could see a woman was still in the car," Moore said.
With the help of the safety officer, they opened the passenger door and reached in to pull the women out. Just as the woman was pulled free of the smashed sedan, Benning said he thought he heard a child cry.
"We heard the toddler crying so we went back and Jason (Benning) managed to pull the child from the car seat and out of the vehicle," Moore said.
Moore said the inside cabin was engulfed in flames within 30 seconds of the rescues.
"We always stress to our NROTC midshipmen and officer candidates the importance of being men and women of action," said Capt. Thomas Halley, Hampton Roads NROTC consortium commanding officer. "We stress the importance of not just being bystanders when they can take action to help the situation; to not sit around and watch things happen when they can make a difference. I am very proud of the exceptional character Benning and Moore possess, and the bravery and selflessness they displayed."
Benning said Navy training he received while on board USS Chafee (DDG 90) during a midshipmen summer cruise in June gave him the confidence to perform under duress.
"During those three weeks on Chafee, we went through a ton of DC (damage control) training," Benning said. "You're taught to have no hesitation, to suit up, go into a space and get the job done. It gave me confidence and I think that cruise helped me to not hold back. To put others first and respond quickly to a situation."
Moore was an aviation electronics technician for more than four years before applying to the Seaman-To-Admiral-21 (STA-21) program. STA-21 enables enlisted Sailors to attend college and be commissioned as officers. He said he could really recall his shipboard and Navy training when it came to assisting in the rescue.
"The experience from the fleet definitely helped," Moore said. "Mainly, having the discipline that you're taught to accomplish a task or when you encounter a situation like this you're able to calmly act to save someone's live."
Benning or Moore didn't find out the name of the woman or child, but said both victims seemed responsive but in shock as the ambulance took them away.
Both also said they'd be more aware of the road and would definitely be stopping more if there seemed to be trouble or someone needed assistance.
The NROTC program is overseen by the Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. NROTC develops young men and women morally, mentally, and physically, and instills in them the highest ideals of honor, courage, and commitment. The program educates and trains young men and women for leadership positions in an increasingly technical Navy and Marine Corps. Old Dominion University NROTC is part of the Hampton Roads Consortium that includes NROTC midshipmen and officer candidates from Old Dominion, Norfolk State and Hampton University.
For more information about NROTC, visit www.nrotc.navy.mil.
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